Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen makes colossal financial mistake

April 23, 2010
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For all you kids out there considering leaving college early to pursue your dreams, there are lots of reasons to stay until you get your sheepskin.

Let’s roll out Exhibit A today: Jimmy Clausen.

Despite spending most of Thursday night with ESPN’s Erin Andrews, Clausen’s face got longer and longer as the night dragged on. Clausen could live with Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford going No. 1 overall. But the Denver Bronco’s selection of Tim Tebow at No. 25 was a real kick in the gut.

You could feel the air go out of Clausen’s living room (which was being shot live by ESPN) as the first round ended. Clausen saw his financial fortunes deflated as well.

His decision to leave ND early will cost him an easy $10 million (and probably a lot more) over the next four years, assuming he goes in the top 10 picks of the second round. You don't need a Notre Dame finance degree to figure how painful that is to swallow.

Bradford is expected to sign a deal worth between $40 million to $45 million. Clausen will be lucky to get a deal one-fourth that size. You can't find a draft expert that doesn't now think Clausen would have made bushels more money had he swallowed his pride and played for a new coach for one year at ND.

Clausen wouldn't have to be the No. 1 pick next year to turn out financially better off. A top 15 pick next year would assure that. And you have to believe that another year under the Golden Dome (and one with a college coach that actually knows how to coach college football) would have assured that would happen.

Clausen's statistics were solid, but in the end he really didn't accomplish anything. Notre Dame certainly didn't compete for any national titles. Not even close. ND wouldn't have even competed for the Big Ten title had the school been in that conference. Heaven knows the Irish couldn't hang with USC with Clausen under center.

Under Kelly, it could have been different, but we'll never know. Clearly scouts were bothered by what they saw.

So bothered in fact, Tebow, a dubious pro prospect at best, got bumped above Clausen. I guess winning, regardless of the level of play, does in fact matter. Now, the biggest remaining question is if Texas' Colt McCoy, who also is still available, will go before Clausen.

By the way, there's no truth to the rumor that either Clausen or McCoy have agreed to a guest appearance on The Biggest Loser.

Many were stunned by Clausen's rapid fall from grace. None other than ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who has more draft knowledge under his well-oiled hairdo than just about anyone, had Clausen as the No. 4 overall pick going into last night's NFL draft.

Kiper looked almost as forlorn as Clausen. They could probably both use a hug from Andrews.

You could almost read Kiper's mind, saying, "After all these years, how could all these NFL scouts and generl managers doubt me." I couldn't help but think of former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin, who once uttered, "Who the h--- is Mel Kiper Jr.?"

Kiper wasn't alone. Nine of 10 NFL draft analysts had Clausen going no later than No. 9 to Buffalo. Note to youngsters hoping for NFL futures: Look to actual NFL front office types for your info, not draft experts. I know they're not as sexy as Mel and Todd McShay, but they might actually hold the keys to useful career-decision-making information.

Clearly most NFL GMs think Clausen is more in the mold of Brady Quinn than Joe Montana. And honestly,  I'm not sure even a year of college could change that.

Where Clausen ends up at this point is anybodys guess. But my bet is if Claussen could have one big do-over, he'd head back to his South Bend dorm room, throw his arms around Kelly, and hope another year throwing passes under Touchdown Jesus would work miracles for his financial fortunes.

  • Are you under that much pressure to fill the blog everyday?
    You do not know...NO ONE much his decision cost him.

    What if he breaks his leg next year?

    What if he has a terrible year?

    What if there's a lockout?

    What if he has a bad off-field incident?

    Don't get me wrong...I like the IBJ. If I had to choose between it and the Star, I'd pick the IBJ in a heartbeat. But some of your blog posts are if you're just trying to drum up traffic.
  • drum up traffic, good idea
    Drum up traffic, now what a great idea! Since that is at the center of our IBJ's business plan to "drum up traffic" and advertisers and to make a little money while we're at it, I'll take that at as a compliment. I certainly don't know everything, but I know that if Clausen were to go in the top 15 picks in the 2011 draft he would make lots more money. History and the NFL draft salary slotting system tells me that. As always, thanks for reading.
  • Do not agree
    I do not agree that Clausen made a financial mistake. I really don't think he would have been selected higher after 1 more year at ND. For some reason, he has been branded as player with an attitude problem, which may be confused with cockiness/confidence. Who knows. He most likely wouldn't have been able to shake that label after another year at ND. Most of these coaches interviewed him so they obviously saw something they did not like with his personality. I haven't heard a word knocking his ability. Keep in mind there are only a handful of teams that are in the market to pick a QB in round 1.
  • completely agree
    Spot on Anthony, spot on.

    Clausen isn't that good. Why ND fans feel they must defend him is beyond me. His coach didn't know what he was doing, and the results (both record-wise, and player development-wise) were evidence of the same.

    In some ways, I feel bad for Clausen as delusional as he must be - though - hopefully this is a humbling experience for him, and improves as a player under an actual coach worth his mettle.
  • Impact
    The NFL teams want and need impact players. Although I feel bad for Jimmy, he never won at ND. Another year would have been a great chance to prove something. Injuries happen, but it didn't hurt Sam. For Jimmy to cash in now he will have to wait for his 2nd contract and thatâ??s if he ever gets a chance to prove himself.
  • Anotehr year doesn't fix attitude issues
    From what I have read, scouts see Jimmy Clausen as a talented player with a bad attitude. So even another year wouldn't have helped. Maybe he would mature enough to see that he wasn't the center of the universe but there is no guarentee.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that next year (or the next time that players are signed and playing) there will most likely be a new wage scale for rookies. So a top 15 pick wouldn't get the ridiculous amounts of money they do today.
  • Claussen made the wrong move, but it was the safe move
    Did Jimmy Clausen really make a financial mistake by coming out this year? Probably, but I believe he played it safe. He will be drafted and sign a multi-million dollar deal before Notre Dame opens their season. With the possibility of an injury or not adapting to Kelly's system, it is possible his stock would go down. Let's not forget, Brian Kelly does not have anybody coming in to replace Golden Tate next season. Also, if there is an NFL lockout, does the NFL even have a draft next year? If not, that could be a year of rust before he begins playing competitive football again. Entering into the draft was definitely the safe choice. Matt Leinart gambled by not coming out early and look what happened.
  • Wage Scale
    It was said earlier by Jason --> it's all about next year's wage scale.
    When the collective bargaining agreement limits rookie pay, will you then recant this article?
  • NFL, not NBA
    I think you are confusing the NFL with the NBA. While the collective bargaining agreement will be reworked in the next year in both leagues, the NBA is failing financially, meanwhile the NFL is profiting strongly in one of the worst economies in decades. Yes, NFL vets are angry rookies are making so much right out of the box. But the players' union and players' agents no well that overall that is good for many, many of their memebers. The NFLPA, one of the strongest unions in all of sports, will fight very, very hard to limit decreases to rookie pay. And I think that will have a big impact on this situation. The NBAPA on the other hand knows the league is bleeding money and understands the union doesn't have much of a leg to stand on.
  • Don't agree
    Clausen seems to have other problems besides timing. If he indeed has character issues he would carry that stench into next year's draft as well. If he's good he'll make his money.
    I doubt if Tom Brady's accountant cares where he got drafted.
  • disagree
    I think it's a bit exaggerated to call a move that nets you $10mm a colossal mistake. He'll be set for life once he signs, and if he's as good as he believes, he can sign a bigger deal later in his career. Could he have gotten more next year? Probably, but not definitely, and the marginal value to anyone of second $10mm they make is nowhere near the value of the first $10mm. If he played another year, he could be hurt, or he could prove his detractors right, and go even lower next year. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Second Coming of Jeff George
    Clearly came off to the NFL folks as a legend in his own mind...
  • yes, a big mistake
    NFL players get hurt, too. Blowing out a knee with a $2,000,000 contract vs a $12,000,000 contract could be deemed the result of a colossal mistake. College players can sometimes get a fifth year of eligibility while "earning" a degree (nudge nudge wink wink). No matter, though, as most NFL and NBA athletes within 5 years of retirement declare bankruptcy.
  • Take note Gordon....
    Please Gordon....take note....PLEASE.....
  • Total Junk
    I don't know how long it took you to think this out before you wrote it. However, looking back on it I hope you realized how wrong you are. Jimmy Clausen and his family are rich to begin with. I live in the same county, played high school football against him and all of the other All-American athletes at Oaks Christian High School, and I know the area very well. He did not leave because of money, or because he was not winning games at Notre Dame. He left so he can do what he does best. Prove people like you wrong. He had nothing left to do in college football, other than break a few records which really didn't matter. I remember when he came out of high school there were many people who said he was going to be the bust of the year. He was the golden boy in high school, but somehow it wouldn't translate to the college game. You might have even been one of them. He shut them up pretty quick. He will likely do the same thing in the NFL. Being perfect runs in the guy's blood. I have hated him for it since he was 14, when he started beating my team 80-0 his freshman year of high school.
    • Clausen a Bust
      Well here we are years later and the reality of Clausen has set in. I'm sure the Panthers are very sorry they invested their $$ on an overrated player like Jimmy. Marcus Tyler as the recipient of Jimmy's shovel passes for 3 years padded his passing stats into the record books, and I'm sure the unknowing bought into the legend. As did ND. Jimmy is slow as hell and blames everyone else for mishaps. ND was lucky to have him bail the team after three years. He just dragged them down, as he was the Panthers. Maybe he can help his brothers coach some HS some day?

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